Note: Over the next twenty days, we will spend a day previewing each team in the Premier League in advance of the coming season. We''ll start with the promoted teams, then move up the table, skipping
After three successive years of crashing out in the Championship Play-offs, Cardiff City finally earned their promotion to the Premier League by passing over the fickle tournament completely, winning the league in a dominating fashion that isn't really accurately reflected in their final 8 point margin. Cardiff are backed by Malaysian investor Vincent Tan, who angered fans when he changed the kit and badge, opting to make the Bluebirds a red team. Whatever he's done to disrespect the history of the club has to be at least partially forgiven by the sheer amount of cash he has poured into it. Not only has Tan invested in the squad, but he's paid off the Langston Debt that has hung over the club for several years now, putting them on the path to financial freedom (playing in the Premier League under the new TV deal will also help).
On the pitch, Cardiff were a force to be reckoned with in the Championship. They grabbed first place in Week 18 and never looked back, making promotion a foregone conclusion by the time spring rolled around. They've got a strong defensive foundation, led by captain Mark Hudson, and the midfield really makes the team go. Last season some old hands proved they still had some gas in the tank, as Craig Bellamy and Peter Whittingham combined for 15 assists. They were buoyed by performances from younger players as well, like standout Kim Bo-Kyung. Even without Tom Ince, who publicly spurned them earlier this summer, the Bluebirds do not appear to be a team that will be blown away in the middle of the park.
Up front, Cardiff had some fine players capable of scoring goals last campaign, but nobody who struck fear into the hearts of defenders. Supporters will hope that they have found that man in Andreas Cornelius, who signed from FC Copenhagen for a club-record fee during the break. Cornelius is just 20 and scored 18 goals in 34 matches in his first full senior season for the Danish club. His star appears to be pointing up, but it's a lot of responsibility for such a young player. Luckily for him, it appears that the supporting cast will be strong enough that he won't be solely relied upon to provide the scoring.
On paper, the Bluebirds appear to be the strongest candidate among the three promoted teams to stick around for a bit, and that's not just because they are last year's champions. They've got a strong mix of youth and experience, and more importantly, an owner who will be willing and able to invest in the club should the need arise this winter.
Home fixture: May 3
Away fixture: October 5